About Di Kamp

Di Kamp is chief executive of Meta and has been involved in the field of developing people and organisations for 35 years. She has worked with a variety of organisations, and specialises in enabling senior managers to guide their organisations from good enough to excellence, and enabling management teams to lead their people in a way that will enhance their performance. Di has written several books, including manuals for trainers, one on staff appraisals, one on workplace counselling, one on improving your excellence as a trainer, one on people skills, and one on being a 21st century manager. She is currently preparing a further book on the secret of sustainable successful organisations.
Author Archive | Di Kamp


It’s December, almost Christmas – do you remember how exciting that was when you were a child? And now how do we react to it? For most of us it means extra stress in our busy lives: shopping, planning, preparing, visiting or arranging for others to visit – it’s exhausting!

And we’re doing all this when the days are shorter, the weather is often unpleasant, on top of our normal busyness. It’s no wonder that we creak under the strain!

So we have a recommendation for you: plan in one day of your time off as a real day off. Decide now that one of those days is for you to do just what you feel like doing, and choose a day which could work, like the day after Boxing Day or the day after New Year’s Day – days that are often quiet anyway.

You have worked hard all year and you deserve something to really look forward to. You could have a duvet day, read a good book, watch a whole box set, go for a pleasant walk, indulge yourself in a relaxing way for the day.

If your reaction to this is: ‘ I can’t. There’s the family, my partner etc. to consider’, then you definitely need to do it! By deciding now, you can plan to swap kids with friends for a day, so you both get a break, and suggest to your partner that they plan a day off as well.

We all need to have a bit of time to ourselves before we launch back in to our normal busy lives, and it is important for our health and balance. Give yourself a lovely Christmas present this year – take a break!!

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I am fascinated by the ‘unmeasurable’.

Not being easy to measure has become an accepted excuse for not paying much attention to.  Yet, in any conversation with individuals, they ‘assess’ their work-life, home-life, social-life, primarily on the unmeasurables: it is how it feels, and how they feel within the system that determines whether they are positive or negative about it, passionate or apathetic.

So, although we call this the ‘soft stuff’, the unmeasurable, we use it as our own primary form of assessment!!  The obvious conclusion is that we are perfectly capable of measuring these things; it is just a different form of measurement from the hard measures.

We have been told, over the years, that our feelings are an inaccurate and subjective form of assessment, swayed by all sorts of personal biases.  This is true, in scientific terms.  Yet our feelings are undeniably what lead us into passionate commitment to and into withdrawal from, situations, relationships and life in general!

Since organisations are a living system, essentially composed of human beings, it seems only logical to assess them on the basis of the ‘feel’ of the place as an important part of the assessment of their potential effectiveness.  And although feelings may be subjective and inaccurate, on an individual basis, there is nonetheless a general consensus – which means feeling together – about what an organisation is like to work for, which suggests to me that we can establish some clear measures, some obvious distinctions.  It requires that we ask people in organisations some different questions, so that we can identify what makes them want to give of their best and provide the oil in the machinery that enables it to work effectively.

It has become standard practice to measure performance in organisations. However, the principle of assessing our progress has become somewhat perverted by the use of the word measurement or, even worse, metrics.  The implication of these words is that they measure things which are specific, factual and objectively provable.  This has led to a tendency to measure what can be easily demonstrated rather than to measure what matters.  This then leads to a culture of doing things to meet targets or objectives rather than doing them in the right way.  Examples abound of how this leads to good results against the measure, but an overall decline in the service or long-term outcomes: reduced costs in purchasing, but poorer quality in the product; reduced waiting times for hospital appointments for those with minor problems, but limited availability of treatment for serious problems; most trains on time, but some cancelled so that delay targets are met, etc.


Despite the evidence that metrics alone don’t enhance the performance of people, except in a limited way, they persist in being the most common form of measurement in organisations. Why is this?

Firstly, there is an underlying belief that people are not to be trusted, and need driving on and checking, to make sure they achieve. This produces targets, numbers, as a form of control.

Secondly, the scientific approach has led us to a belief that any measures must be objective, factual: ‘ The numbers don’t lie’.

Thirdly, being a people-oriented organisation, or being a profitable organisation were historically seen as alternatives, not a combination. We divided organisations into profit or non-profit, and saw those non-profit organisations as inefficient and ‘soft’. In fact, many of those in the public sector have been pushed to be more business-like, not in addition to their caring, but to the detriment of it.


In fact, there are very few of us who use metrics to assess our own progress when we are reflecting on it. We measure our own progress by our emotional state, our relationships with others, our ability to deal with problems that come up, and the belief that we are developing. For me this is clearly demonstrated in eulogies when we die: most emphasise these aspects of us, not how much money we made or how efficient we were at clearing our in-boxes!

Similarly as customers we assess organisations by how responsive they are to us, how well we are treated as customers, and what it feels like to have contact with them. When we work there, we assess them primarily on the basis of the atmosphere, the way people work together, the level to which we feel valued as an employee, and the approach the leadership team takes to achieving the results they want.

Results matter – if the organisation is failing to achieve results, our service or product is at risk, and our jobs! They are just far from being the only measures, or even the most important. In fact, enlightened leaders realise that the results are a by-product of achieving the other categories of outcomes, not the drivers.


The argument that measures for the full range of outcomes are subjective not factual still exists. Yet despite some different perceptions, subjective assessments tend to give a consensus of opinion, and the different perceptions serve to highlight particular aspects of good or bad practice. We use these forms of measurement – it’s time we formally recognised their importance.


One of the problems with these measures is not that they don’t exist; it is that they are not given the same weight as the results. This is because we view the numbers as being both objective and prevalent. So if an organisation’s results are not as good as in the last quarter, the common reaction is to cut staff numbers and/or staff development, both of which result in a reduction of people’s loyalty and enthusiasm, not an increase!

Even if the results stay at a reasonable level, many organisations do not know what to do to make a difference if their staff and customer surveys reflect dissatisfaction with the organisation. They tend to treat the symptoms of dissatisfaction, not the causes: complaints about waiting times on phones leads to an increase of pressure on call centre staff to answer phones more quickly by cutting short the conversations they have with customers; staff saying their managers don’t listen to them leads to compulsory 1:1’s with staff every fortnight. Reactions like these do not lead to better results in surveys: customers then complain about not being listened to; staff still complain about their managers not listening.

If we want to turn our vision for our organisation into reality, we need to clearly measure the things that make the difference, that we want as outcomes, rather than just the results. This is not difficult, it is common-sense. It just requires us to recognise the measures we all actually use to assess our individual progress, other people, and organisations we work in and have contact with as customers.

Isn’t it time we measured the right things instead of the easy things, and moved our organisations to a new level of effectiveness?

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Have you noticed how much of our lives tend to slip away in routine? Some of it consists of habits and customs we develop to allow us to live on automatic pilot.  Other parts are accepted norms of behaviour that we don’t question. Examples include what we eat and when we eat it, where we sit, in our home and in meetings, what we say to people as a greeting – the list goes on!

There is a usefulness to routine – it allows us to think about something else, or not think at all!  But it can also close down our creativity, our curiosity and even our consciousness of being truly alive.

We all tend to enjoy a break from routine, such as a holiday, and re-find our sense of fun, our vitality.  My question is, why wait?  Every day we have an opportunity to do something different, to take a break from routine, and re-vitalise ourselves.  Sometimes it may be on a grand scale: a friend of mine recently decided to take two of those days in lieu that often accumulate at short notice, and just got in the car and went somewhere she had never been to before, with nothing booked or planned. It was a lovely adventure that gave her back her energy. Or it may be on a small scale: yesterday I cooked a recipe I have never tried before, and it was delicious!

And what about at work? How many routine reactions do you have? What do you ignore that makes you uncomfortable? What do you accept that you really find unacceptable?

Just imagine how much better workplaces would be if only we challenged more, asked for proper explanations, as our routine, instead of simply thinking that it had to be that way. If we didn’t simply accept the status quo, we would feel better and the world would be a better place.

When we do something different, we wake ourselves up again, remind ourselves that life is an exploration, and we are here to learn, to be creative, to make things better, and to have fun.  We revitalise ourselves and tap back into our inner child, who thought life was meant to be good, and always getting better. Don’t let life slip by – do something different today!!

  1. Suggest a better way of doing something at work today
  2. Make one change in your routine today and notice what effect it has on you.
  3. Do something different in one of your ‘routine’ interactions – smile at someone you usually frown at, talk to someone you usually ignore, give a different response next time someone says, “how are you?” – and notice the effect on you and the other person.
  4. Plan to do something really different – go somewhere you’ve never been, experience something you’ve never tried.


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How many times in a week, a month, do you find yourself thrown by something you weren’t expecting: a negative reaction to something you said; someone being awkward when you were expecting co-operation; an extra meeting put in the diary in the space you were going to use to catch up – the list of possibilities goes on and on!

An aspect of emotional intelligence that we don’t often pay attention to is our emotional resilience when something unexpected happens. The word resilience means originally to bounce back

It is so easy to get knocked back in our culture. We tend to see the world as conspiring against us anyway, and so fall too easily into self-pity and being a victim of circumstance. This is not because we are naturally pessimistic, but because we are surrounded by confirmation of the cultural belief that most things don’t work in our favour, unless we are very lucky! The media, the news we are given, our everyday comments on events, all suggest that the world is not on our side.

Resilience has a foundation in the belief that things do work out, and that we can have control of how we live our lives. Although you may have evidence given to you that this is not true, when you stop and examine your history, you will realise that there is also evidence that it is true, that things do work out as often as they don’t if not more so.

The belief that things work out is very useful, because it prompts you to find a way to make things work, no matter what happens.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be happy about everything that happens, or positive – that would be being a victim again. After all, resilience is bouncing back – you need to fall or hit the wall first!

When we develop emotional resilience, we react differently.

a.       We forgive ourselves if our initial reaction is negative, and just let it go.

b.       We pick ourselves up and get on with things, just like a child who has fallen over when learning to walk

c.       We take a deep breath and choose how to respond to the situation, in a way that leaves us feeling OK with it.

d.       We consider what the learning is for us in the particular circumstance, and actively take the learning.

So this month, take a little time to develop further your emotional resilience:

  1. Take an example where life dealt you an unexpected blow in the past. What have you/could you learn from it, in a positive sense?
  2. Identify 4 ways in which the world has conspired with you, by offering you unexpected changes that were useful to you.
  3. As you receive some ‘knock’ this month, stop and go through the process stated above.


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Often, when we are pensive, others will ask us what we are thinking about.  There is a more important question: How are you thinking?

It is how we think about things that has a dramatic effect, on both us and what happens.  Consider it for a moment.  If you are thinking about your summer holiday, it can have a different effect on you, depending on what sort of thoughts you are having.  Remembering the fun you had and feeling again the sense of relaxation and happiness will make you feel good, and ‘feed your soul’ for whatever you are doing now.  Adding to that memory, thoughts like: ‘I wish I was there now instead of here’ will create some resentment and reluctance in your performance in the here and now.

Similarly, when we think about the future, if we imagine things working out, we approach them with a positive mind-set and generally manage to overcome any obstacles.  However, if we are anxious or negative about them and imagine things not working out, we approach them in a way that betrays our feelings about them and often create the very story we didn’t want.  On top of that, we approach what we are doing immediately with that same mind-set and often upset other apple-carts that had nothing to do with what we were thinking about!

Because we think all the time, we are often unaware of the fact that we are in control of our thoughts – we can catch ourselves and choose to think in a different way about things

If we stop the spiral of negative or anxious thinking in ourselves, we do ourselves and the world a favour.  That sort of thinking creates stressful chemistry in our bodies and wears us out, physically and emotionally.  And it doesn’t help us to deal with things better, it perverts and narrows our perspective and wisdom.  The knock-on effect is that we deal with whatever we are doing less effectively and, with the people around us, less usefully.

On the other hand, choosing to have more useful thoughts calms our body chemistry down and reduces our stress, leading to us being more effective.

So, how do we choose to have useful thoughts?  When you find yourself in that negative spiral, ask yourself some of these questions, until you find one that works:-

What different angle could I take on this?

  1. How would someone who wasn’t anxious or negative about this be thinking about it?
  2. Is how I am thinking about this helping me to deal with it and, if not, what would be more useful?
  3. What would distract me from thinking about this at the moment, so that I can regain some perspective?

Our thoughts are very powerful in creating our realities which means that it is worth our while to take back control of them, so that they are more useful in creating the reality we want.  So have a go – don’t let them run the show!!

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When I was a child, I had a magic torch – did you? If you turned it on and switched it round, it shone different colours at things – red, blue, green, and yellow – I loved it! It changed how everything looked depending on which colour you used.

Why am I describing this? Because our minds work in the same way. If your mood is ‘dark’ or ‘blue’, then everything you think about takes on that colour. The sun shining becomes a problem rather than a delight, and then it rains and we are bound to have floods! Someone’s chance remark is obviously aimed at making you feel stupid, and then the next person you encounter doesn’t speak, and you know they are ignoring you because they don’t like you!

On the other hand, when you are feeling ‘sunny’, then it is wonderful to have a sunny summer, and when it rains, that is great for the garden. You laugh at the remark someone makes, knowing that it isn’t aimed at you, and you feel sorry for the person who doesn’t speak to you, because they are obviously so busy they don’t even have time to say hello.

And all this is not out of our control – it is something we can switch around if it doesn’t suit us, just like the torch. Our minds follow what we tell them to follow. So if you notice that the day seems to be going wrong, switch the torch of your attention around – turn it to sunny. Begin to notice what is right about the day, and if you can’t find anything there, go for the bigger picture – what is right about your life, your family, your health – any category where there are things that are going right. This will switch your mind to a more useful beam of light.

Remember that our culture tends to have the ‘dark’ beam on, so we need to counteract that – the news is almost all about what is wrong in our world. We hear about the person who injured someone else, but not about the thousands who were being kind to others at the same time. So you need to help yourself to switch the colour of the beam by choosing not to get taken in by the cultural tendency – stop watching or listening to the news for a while, or subscribe to Positive News, a newspaper which reports the good things happening in our world.

Why is it important that we consciously switch our attention to what’s right? I can hear the cynic saying that it is like wearing rose-coloured spectacles, and is avoiding the real world. But excellent people don’t ignore what is wrong; they just approach it from a different angle. They start by counting all that is working, to give themselves a positive and useful frame of mind, then ask themselves what they can do to handle what is not right. From that useful frame of mind, we are able to find much better ways of handling the situation – we all know that when our mood is sunny, we can sort most things! And if we can’t sort it, at least we can keep it in perspective.

So start practising today, whether you need to or not. Put on the sunny beam and notice what is right in your life, in the world.

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How many of you have been affected by some undefined virus this year? Something that makes you feel bad, miserable, under the weather… and then there are the numerous non-medical viruses that we hear about every day:

  • The virus of deceit and half-truth which our politicians seem to be so infected with
  • The virus of greed which brought down our economic system
  • And the never-ending virus of fear which is fed by the above, as well as terrorism, enemies, threats, lack of work, etc.

Aren’t you tired of all these viruses? I certainly am, and I believe the best medicine to counteract them may be to start spreading a different sort of virus, as actively as we can. I remember when people first began to realize that we could use viral marketing through the internet including services like media buying company, through the media, to spread a message from a few influential sources. Let’s use this to the good!

My suggestions for useful viruses would be:

The virus of love

Let’s counteract the fear virus by being actively loving and kind towards others – our family, our work colleagues, and even complete strangers! It is easy to be kind in simple ways – let that car in to the queue, bring a coffee for a workmate, give someone a hug. And we all know that it is infectious…

The virus of hope

Let’s look for the reasons to be cheerful, to believe that life can be good. Let’s sign those petitions for a better world – it only takes a minute. Let’s encourage others to find a new job, to spot the sunshine in amongst the clouds.

The virus of integrity

Let’s be truthful, and stick to our principles. Let’s stand up for the right things, and let’s at least be honest in our own expenses claims!

The virus of abundance

Let’s delight in what we have rather than worry about what we don’t have or might lose. And let’s share what we have, and assume there will be enough to go round. There are many who have no roof over their head, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from – we are lucky!

You may be feeling powerless in the face of the viruses which are receiving so much publicity at the moment. Yet you have the power to infect the people you know and meet with these viruses every day, and add to the spreading of a different message. For goodness’ sake, do what you can do and let’s change the story between us – we can make the difference!

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We have noticed that almost all organisations these days are called businesses, even those which are essentially services, such as the NHS. In the process of preparing a new book, I have explored the meaning of the different words we use to describe workplaces. This prompted me to look up the word ‘company’, and remind myself that originally it meant somewhere where people broke bread together.

Oh dear! Lots of people don’t even break bread together at home, let alone at work!

The very concept of breaking bread together brings up such a positive image: people eating together, talking together, knowing each other, discussing things that matter in a calm and pleasant atmosphere. Can you imagine what a difference it would make to what goes on at work, if that was part of the daily rituals there?

Instead we have businesses, where people are all too busy doing their never-ending to-do lists to be able to raise their heads and smile at each other, let alone eat together! It is such a loss to our personal well-being and that of the places we work in. Without the simple human contact, we lose touch with what it is all really about – making a positive difference, creating something together that we can be proud of, making enough profit or spare to be able to keep going, delighting our customers – some of those things that are obvious when we have time to stop and reflect..

So this month, why not decide to change from the busy daily rituals, at least once in a while:

  • Smile and say hello to your companions in the company
  • Eat with some of them once in a while
  • Discuss what really matters to the long-term survival of your company, rather than just how you will meet this month’s targets

This not pie in the sky, so to speak! It is humans who make up the major component of a business, and being human is the most important thing they bring to that company – if this were not true, everything would by now be done by computers! So bring your humanness to work this month, and enjoy the fact that you work with other humans – give your business a little bit of company!


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I have just been looking after my granddaughter for the weekend, and been reminded yet again of how perverted we become as we grow up and accept the cultural conditioning that brings us into line with the way things are in our society..

Amber has not yet absorbed this conditioning, and is consequently an absolute delight to be with. She spends most of her waking time actively looking for things to enjoy – nothing complicated – a game of counting or guessing things, a cuddle, the sensations of touching, looking at, listening to interesting things, helping with simple household jobs, talking about subjects she is noticing in her world – there are so many possibilities when you look through her eyes!

She also delights in making new connections – we call it learning – which key fits which door, how many things can be put inside a small box, how dictionaries work, making patterns from different objects, and which faces, gestures and phrases make grandma laugh the most!

As I watch and join in with her world, I am tempted back to that wonderful state of innocence, where life was about fun, and curiosity led me to explore possibilities, and develop my skills. We were all born to be like this, and as grown-ups we can choose to re-awaken this latent ability to love life.

Amber reminds me to really live my life, and go past my conditioning. What will remind you, if only for a little while? It is so much more fun to be childlike in the world!


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We often talk on our programmes about how you can change the story-line in your life, because you are in charge of it. There has been a lot of discussion in our household about the new era we have entered into – the age of Aquarius – and how it is the time to really create the story you want in your life. And it has reminded me that there are a couple of things that are vital to making that transition easier, and more comfortable.

Firstly, we need to be clear about what our criteria are for accepting or rejecting things that have been a part of our lives up until now. This applies whether it is changing jobs, friends, or possessions – it applies to everything. What I mean by criteria is clarity in why you will choose to reject or accept something. For example, I have decided to have another grand sort-out and established that I would only keep in my life those things that make my heart sing. It is a simple but very effective criterion!

Secondly, and equally importantly, we need to be in touch with our own ecology signal – the message from our ‘guts’ that tells us if something is right or wrong for us at this time. This signal will help us to stay comfortable with the change by helping us to pace it to suit ourselves in a true sense.

An example for me was my books: I knew that only some of them genuinely make my heart sing still, yet it is a long-standing habit to buy and save books in case I want to read them again. After much consideration, I decided that I could divide my books into three categories: ones I didn’t want any more and could give away; ones that I love to dip into and have my notes in; and ones that I may want to read again, but can happily store on kindle rather than as physical books. Now I can go through them and clear many of them whilst still feeling good about it – my ecology signal says yes!

When it comes to adding to our story, we equally need to pace ourselves to stay comfortable – this is not an all or nothing game! So go gently, perhaps adding a little bit of new activity, or a gentle beginning to changing a non-useful habit.

It doesn’t matter what pace you go at in changing your story, so long as you do keep gradually evolving that wonderful life of yours. And if you do decide to go for the ‘grand slam’ like I tend to, you are still entitled to keep it comfortable for yourself!

So stop for a moment, next time you are sitting having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and ask yourself: ‘Is there anything I want to take out of my life, to evolve my story today, or is there anything I still need to keep even though it doesn’t really fit?’ then ask yourself, ‘what do I want to begin to add into my life to evolve it and myself further?’ And enjoy the answers you get..


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